A few years ago I received the flag that was placed on my Great-Grandfather Barnard’s casket when he died. He fought in World War I and was a POW, twice. The flag hadn’t been properly cared for, stuffed into an old cardboard box that was too small to hold it, along with a sheet of paper describing how to properly care for the flag, and who is entitled to one at their funeral.
The document is certainly pre-World War II, as it made mention of World War I, but nothing else. Discolored with age, and somewhat brittle due to acid content, the paper, in conjunction with the ancient cardboard box, had stained the flag.
For several years I tried to figure out the best way to remove the stains without harming the flag itself, which is at least 50 and perhaps as many as 90 years old. I wanted to safely remove the stains, have it properly folded and put it into a flag case. I tried contacting the Cleveland Museum of Art to talk to a specialist in textile preservation, scouted around online & even Asked MetaFilter. I read forums on flag etiquette and ran across some somewhat “extreme” views on what constitutes desecration of the flag (e.g. washing it period). I didn’t find anything conclusive or even somewhat helpful in dealing with a flag of advanced age.
So I washed it. And the stains came out! And I when I spread it on my bed to dry, it covered the whole bed, and then some. And I called my mom to tell her about it, and she asked how many stars were on it. And there are only 48 stars on it! 6 rows of 8.
I ended up having to fold it myself, and I did a pretty good job at it. The flag case I got for it was too large though & then the glass in it broke. I still don’t have something to properly put it in for display or storage. But I feel a lot better knowing that it has been successfully cleaned and is properly folded.
A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armageddon.
Despite the laughable fact that this movie is included in the Criterion Collection; and the almost certain financial & business-tactical reasons for its inclusion, I’m going to try to review this film in good faith. This Michael Bay blockbuster came out in 1998, and that’s important, because I can’t imagine a film like this being made at all post-9/11. Yeah, I went there. The film is a self-congratulatory projection of America at the height of its pride, but before it had gottenth to the fall; an America that fancied itself so invincible that it could kick a Texas-sized asteroid’s ass in 18 days. An America with no problems. This is a movie made in an America that had forgotten what it is like to be humbled. (And if you think it’s just coincidence that the asteroid is “Texas-sized”, you’re an idiot).
Despite the not-so-laughable fact that the entire world is threatened by the asteroid, the only ones who can save the day are Americans. Americans who are arrogant dicks. (Redundant, I know.) America is the theme of this movie, not cosmic annihilation. Most noticeably, there are flags draped everywhere, they are like sacred tapestries, and nearly every scene is constructed to honor or promote American-ness in some way. Plus, Bruce Willis; probably the most stereotypically “American” action hero. There’s nothing original here, the film is basically a HGH version of the played-out “can we disarm the bomb in time?” trope.
Armageddon might be the most quintessentially American movie of the post-WWII era. Its genius is that of an idiot savant, but because this movie lacks anything approaching self-awareness, the glory of its bravado & obvious tackiness capture what it means to be American in the purest of terms. Michael Bay set out to make a blockbuster about America’s big balls and succeeded, but in his quest to present us with two hours of subconscious masturbatory zeitgeist-stroking (thereby turning us into lab rats who don’t even have to hit the crack button) he managed to remove anything vaguely approaching a compelling narrative. The movie is pablum; there is no there there, and that is the only reason it is possible to make the grandiose claims I’m making about this film. If you are a thoughtful person, letting the tits, explosions, & smart-mouthed dialogue flow through you is like sitting zazen and penetrating through the impenetrable mu of the American psyche through the force of sheer bafflement. You will grasp for any sort of meaning and come up empty, and at the uttermost depth of your despair, when you surrender to the idiocy; enlightenment. This film is the archetype.
I used to have a sideblog for one-offs, riffs and links, now that’s what Facebook is for. However, here are some things I picked up on, realized, or thought about over my trip to Indiana last week.
- The first thing is one I’ve always wondered about: Why is the Yellow Freight Company’s logo orange?
- I saw a big billboard with a bald eagle and American flag that said “America – Bless God”. This doesn’t make any sense. America can’t bless God because God is from whom all blessings flow. The top 3 hits for the phrase could generate no end of cultural criticism writing. I could go on, and would really like to, but I’ll spare everyone.
- It took over a year, but I’ve now trained myself both physically and psychologically to eat smaller portion sizes. That means, on the occasions that I pig out, I’m actually just eating what Americans consider to be normal portions. My weight fluctuates between 178 & 182, and since whenever I try to dip below that, my appetite goes into overdrive, I figure that’s right where my body wants to be.
- Picked up this sweet piece of furniture for $70:
i suppose i’m un-American. i don’t want war with Iraq. I see no motivation for it apart from a familial grudge held by the man currently recognized as our the American president. i think the days of rampant die-hard nationalism are past. i believe it is time to focus and concentrate on a more global scale. i’m not talking about corporate globalization which in my opinion is nothing more than American imperialism under a different guise. i’m talking about global humanitarianism which of course is way too idealistic at this point. I do think, however, that it is high time we Americans at least start moving in that direction. Lord knows, much of the rest of the world is attempting to. i read somewhere that our the American government has a $400 billion budget for military spending. i’m pretty sure that is more than would be required to protect our America’s own borders. Instead, it is focused on protecting American ‘interests,’ a convenient term which can be molded to justify our American involvement anywhere. America could be a respected part of the world community instead of feared because of its power if we it could just stop being trigger-happy and realize that helping out others will help us America out in the long run.
it would have been bad karma to bash the american media about patriotism yesterday so i held off until today. on my shift wednesday night i was glancing through a Time and Newsweek and marveled at the amount of propaganda that was present in the publications. This is eerily like the development of the fascist system in Orwell’s 1984. every article and many of the advertisements promoted a sort of blind unquestioning allegiance toward new policy and other government action. Patriotism it appears, has reached the point where either you must support every aspect of government or be in league with terrorists. i imagine the mccarthy era was like this except instead of being a pinko commie, you are helping out Islamic fanatics. the last time i checked, there wasn’t a law against this but now it appears that the Patriot Bill and office of Homeland Security have changed our civil liberties in some very fundamental ways. That is scary enough, but when our source of ‘free’ speech effectively condemns all naysaying I feel a little claustrophobic. Why for instance do we need another government oversight administration for the citizens, if the FBI and CIA aren’t working well, then make them better, don’t create a new system. its like taking a car to the junkyard because it has a flat tire and then asking the GM to build you a new one from scratch. as far as i can tell, the US is losing the war on terrorism, because the US isn’t quite the land of the free that it used to be.
as for the whole pledge of allegiance mumbojumbo, will the separation between church and state reach the point where ‘God Bless America” is banned and religious lobbyists are prevented from expressing their desires for new legislations? will religion end up being banned altogether since the USA as an entity allows churches on her soil. i can see it coming. dubya’s government is a scary scary thing.
i’d better hop on my plane to Pakistan now since it is obvious from the previous paragraphs that i am a cause of the problem and not just an American exercising my right to free speech. omygod they are here already, banging on the door! i haven’t even posted yet.! big brother is everywhere!